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Activists launch counter-regeneration whistleblowing site

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Activists are set to launch a ‘whistleblowing’ website allowing architects to anonymously leak information about development projects

The identity of those behind the site, www.concreteaction.net, which currently consists of a holding page, is unknown.

However, their stated aim is to provide a platform for architecture and planning professionals to support the ‘current housing struggles’ in London.

A statement on the website says: ‘The platform will allow professionals to leak information about planning and regeneration processes anonymously, offer advice to groups resisting regeneration and help communities develop their own counter-regeneration plans.’

The Concrete Action website is holding a launch event in central London on Thursday (3 September).

A Facebook page advertising the event says the site will also allow public access to development and regeneration documents through a searchable database.

Concrete Action also plans to hold educational workshops to explain the planning process and develop alternative community-led design proposals.

It also claims that a ‘translation’ service will be set up, offering further explanation of the planning process, including advice on action to be taken by protestors at each stage of the process, plus descriptions of companies and government bodies involved.

Clem Cecil, director of Save Britain’s Heritage, said that the new website could be a ‘helpful outlet’ for frustrated planners and architects.

‘It may help cut through existing hypocrisy in the system, for example, the appropriation by developers of conservation terminology to describe non-conservation activities. This is widespread and extremely confusing for the general public.

‘The very fact that such a website is coming into existence shows that people feel that they do not have a voice in the present system.’

However, she warned that materials published by the site should have a citable source, rather than being simply used to create rumours.

‘It is possible that it won’t be democratic if it’s anonymous and it could be abused,’ she said.

‘Whatever happens, there should be more debate and transparency in the planning system and I hope this leads towards that.’

James Hughes, Victorian Society conservation adviser, said: ‘Concrete Action has the potential to develop into a powerful tool to level the playing field between campaigners and developers.

‘At the moment, groups like the Victorian Society often only find out about threats to important buildings when a planning applications is submitted, and sometimes even later.

‘Concrete Action could enable us to get involved at an earlier stage to ensure our voice is heard before avoidable damaging plans are developed.’

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